The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Happy Monday. This is a long one.
Trump says he thinks Obama wiretapped him. And we’re off!
The UN’s Special Rapporteur for cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, gave remarks on the rise of fundamentalist and extremist hate, and CFI’s Michael De Dora, who is in Geneva now, reports to us that Bennoune specifically thanked “civil society organizations, including the Center for Inquiry” for our work. Here is our statement on how supporting cultural rights can help prevent terrorism:
No matter the source — religious or secular — we know that fundamentalist and extremist actors dogmatically hold to narrow doctrines and hegemonic visions of society; engage in discriminatory and xenophobic rhetoric and actions; and reject universal human rights. This often involves intolerance of individuals and communities peacefully practicing their cultures and traditions; creating and sharing diverse forms of art and music; and expressing themselves freely — including creating new cultures and traditions.
Rex Tillerson, meanwhile, seems uninterested in his own department’s human rights report.
“Cancer Quack” Stanislaw Burzynski is placed on a five-year probation by the Texas Medical Board and fined $60,000, which is far less than the originally considered $360,000 fine. The Board cited Burzynski’s lies to patients, not informing patients of the risks of treatment, and a lack of supervision of clinic staff. Julie Chang at the Austin American-Statesman reports, “Burzynski’s attorneys called it a win for the doctor, who says he has found the cure for cancer.”
Michael French at The Atlantic reports on the struggles and strides of atheists in the Philippines:
“Most Filipinos think that God provides. It will give a lot of people common sense when we let them know that there really is no God.”
Meanwhile in the Philippines, NYT reports on how the violence of President Rodrigo Duterte, who uses “biblical language” to justify his acts, is being increasingly resisted by the Catholic Church.
Bangladesh bans the group Ansar Al-Islam from the country – the group is pegged as among those responsible for the slayings of secularist bloggers including Avijt Roy.
Pope Fluffy encourages Catholics not to produce more children than they can reasonably care for. (I thought God took care of that.) What he doesn’t encourage: contraception.
Brandon Withrow at The Daily Beast explores a double standard when it comes to terrorism and religion: 87% of white evangelicals say that Christians who commit acts of terror aren’t actually Christian, but only 44% say the same for Muslims.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Crazytown) says Hillary Clinton wanted to jail people for criticizing Islam and for being part of “Christian-loving” groups.
Peter Gleick of the US National Academy of Sciences writes in Wired about why he’s taking part in the March for Science and other such demonstrations:
When politics threatens fundamental social values and principles, the defense of those values and principles becomes an overriding priority.
A Sikh man in Washington state is shot by someone telling him to “go back to your own country.” The victim is still alive and recovering in the hospital, and area Sikhs gathered at a temple to respond and cope.
Three Oklahoma Muslim students tried to make an appointment to see their state legislator, State Rep. John Bennett, who once called Muslims “a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.” Instead of a meeting, the students were handed a questionnaire that asked whether the students “beat their wives.”
Also in Oklahoma, a Native American high school student is screamed at by her teacher for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance. “As a Native youth, I do not agree that there is liberty and justice for all people.”
Bahrain seeks to dissolve its secular party, the Waad Party. Great.
The Supreme Court will not hear the Gavin Grimm transgender rights case.
Margaret Sullivan shows the parallels between Putin’s and Trump’s approaches to a critical press.
A new version of the travel ban is expected today, exempting folks from Iraq this time. The new order will be rolled out as “Muslim Ban Service Pack 2”
Lisa Rosenbaum at the New England Journal of Medicine says, “In the face of suppression of science, should scientists resist, or quietly proceed with their work? Resistance seems essential.”
Rep. Steve King of Iowa says the executive branch should be “purged” of “Leftists” because of “treasonous acts.”
Speaking of Iowa, the legislature is considering yet another “strengths-and-weaknesses”-style anti-evolution education bill.
Google needs to clean up its informational snippets in searches.
The AP says it has determined that SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch will be hostile to the idea of environmental groups getting involved in lawsuits about public lands.
More horrors: The AP reports on the discovery of a mass grave of 800 babies and kids at a former Catholic orphange in Ireland. In Britain, victims are stepping forward to tell of the unthinkable abuse they suffered at the hands of evangelical leader John Smyth, described as “violent, excruciating, and shocking.”
Autistic? If you ever need a transplant, you may be screwed. Oh no…
Scientists at the University of Hong Kong use freakin’ lasers to reveal details of the tissue around the bones of an Archiornis, a Jurassic-era winged dinosaur, providing the best idea yet of what a dinosaur — any dinosaur — might have actually looked like.
Peter J. Leithart at First Things is troublingly sympathetic to alt-med pseudoscience:
Much of modern medicine assumes a mechanistic materialism very much at odds with Christian understandings of matter and bodies. It’s not hard to see why biblically-oriented Christians might gravitate to therapies and practices that promise to treat the whole person – therapies that recognize there’s a whole person to treat.
Tony Reali of ESPN has an interesting piece about his practice of wearing ash on his face for Lent and its changing meaning for him:
If the Christian Brothers and Jesuits taught me anything, it’s that you can’t have apprehension without challenging your beliefs. Educate, question, challenge, re-educate, re-question, re-challenge. If that’s true for one’s personal faith, isn’t it also true of capital F, Faith? … The Catholic Church is no different from any other world religion in the constant need for fresh air. I’d consider it a necessary challenge for all religions and value systems: How do you re-evaluate and remain open-minded as the world thankfully progresses? What happens if it feels like the world isn’t progressing the way it should?
The Economist says religious communities need to redouble their efforts to explain their thinking to seculars:
Religious people will have to try describing to non-religious people what it means to live according to a text or a narrative that was formed many centuries ago; and to explain that for them, texts written in the distant past can be of decisive importance to life in the year 2017, because these eternally significant words are perpetually gaining new meanings.
Pastor Ian Kurylyk has us “nones” all figured out, reminding us that opting not to worship anyone is the same as joining with the antichrist. Well, it is what it is I guess.
John Oliver talks about the Dalai Lama, I assume humorously, but I’m busy writing this right now.
Leo Igwe explains why building a humanist movement in Nigeria has been “a labor of love” (and gives shout-outs to CFI’s Council for Secular Humanism, Free Inquiry magazine, and our founder, the late Paul Kurtz):
Providing an alternative to religion would be a Herculean task because an effective alternative to religion must take into consideration the critical services that religion provides, particularly in a poverty-stricken region. But for me, these ‘good’ deeds which religions accomplished paled in comparison to the harmful and destructive effects of their dogmas and superstitions and the havoc faith-based abuses wreaked in people’s lives. … Though there are still daunting challenges, the prospects of a rational alternative to religion are bright and promising. Humanism is really set to become an effective alternative to religion in Nigeria and the Nigerian Humanist Movement is positioned to midwife this critical process.
Quote of the Day:
Pro-asteroid dinosaurs are asked to explain their positions:
I’m a Triceratops. I support the asteroid. The Triceratops who have stayed in Gondwana have destroyed it, and now they want to get out and cause damage here. We need to protect our borders, but now any policy like that is called racist. If the asteroid hits juuuuuust right it will make a giant crater separating Gondwana from Laurasia and we won’t have to deal with any more southerner migration.
There is something hypocritical about the Coastal Elites saying they are uniters not dividers. They say they are inclusive and then exclude half the population who want to try extinction.
I’m so tired of hearing about Velociraptor privilege. I’m a Velociraptor, but way less privileged than a Stegosaurus.
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